A data architect is a team member responsible for organizing data, ensuring that at the macro level the data assets of an organization originate from a defined single source or "golden source" and at the micro level are organized in data models. Having a clearly defined target state of golden sources aids the organization in predictably achieving its strategic goals by having high quality data at the ready to help meet strategic goals.

The primary responsibility of the Data Architect is enterprise architecture, new technology implementation, research and evaluation of emerging technologies, strategic technology planning, consulting, software validation and e-business support functions. The Data Architect initiates data architecture(DA) related activities, including extract-transform-load (ETL) processes and data warehouse solutions design, through business needs analysis and routine issue resolution.

The data architect "provides a standard common business vocabulary, expresses strategic data requirements, outlines high level integrated designs to meet these requirements, and aligns with enterprise strategy and related business architecture." but there seems to be a wide variety of required skills for the data architect, with data modeling being the single common denominator. The required skills of the data architect are:

    • Foundation in systems development: The data architect should understand the system development life cycle; software project management approaches; and requirements, design, and test techniques. The data architect is asked to conceptualize and influence application and interface projects, and therefore must understand what advice to give and where to plug in to steer toward desirable outcomes.
    • Depth in data modeling and database design: This is the core skill of the data architect, and the most requested in data architect job descriptions. The effective data architect is sound across all phases of data modeling, from conceptualization to database optimization. This skill extends to SQL development and database administration.
    • Breadth in established and emerging data technologies: In addition to depth in established data management and reporting technologies, the data architect is either experienced or conversant in emerging tools like columnar and NoSQL databases, predictive analytics, data visualization, and unstructured data. While not necessarily deep in all of these technologies, the data architect hopefully is experienced in one or more,and must understand them sufficiently to guide the organization in understanding and adopting them.
    • Ability to conceive and portray the big data picture: When the data architect initiates, evaluates, and influences projects he or she does so from the perspective of the entire organization. The data architect maps the systems and an interface used to manage data, set standards for data management, analyzes current state and conceives desired future state, and conceives projects needed to close the gap between current state and future goals.
    • Ability to astutely operate in the organization: The data architect should be able to operate politically in the organization. He should be:
    • Well respected and influential
    • Technologically and politically neutral
    • Articulate, persuasive, and a good salesperson

    Hiring a data architect who lacks some of the skills outlined here can restrict an organization's ability to capitalize on opportunities that new data management techniques bring.

    Roles & Responsibilities:

    The Data Architect generally has the following responsibilities:

    • Designs database,data models, ETL processes,data warehouse applications and business intelligence(BI) reports through the use of best practices and tools,including SQL, SSIS, SSRS and OLAP.
    • Delivers high quality (DA) related outcomes including ETL processes, data warehouse designs and data system enhancements in accordance with existing standards and guideline.
    • Resolves routine (DA) related issues with business analysts and technology teams by providing advice on data warehousing methods and approaches.
    • Analyzes (DA) related business needs, works with project staff to make decisions and recommendations on the future of (DA) developments.
  • Architecture Modeling

    You may observe several behaviors in a person that could be strong indicators of his or her capabilities in the Architecture Modeling competency. The Data Architect is expected to demonstrate Extensive experience in the Architecture Modeling competency. To demonstrate Extensive experience in the Architecture Modeling competency, one should demonstrate knowledge of and ability to develop and modify enterprise architecture through conceptual, logical and physical approaches.


    We have tried to outline skills and major roles and responsibilities of a Data Architect. Your feedback and comments are welcomed.You can also check our course "Advanced Data and Dimensional Modeling Course" to gain more insight on the role and skills.